While skin of all ages is beautiful, time can dim your glow. Help keep your complexion plump, bright, and smooth by minimizing these habits that can cause premature skin aging. 1. Persistently Rubbing Your Eyes Can Cause Dark Circles and Fine Lines Under-eye bags are part of the natural aging process, and occur when muscles around the eyes weaken, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine.
For most people, rubbing the eyes isn’t a problem and won’t cause any permanent side effects, says Paul Jarrod Frank, MD, a board-certified dermatologist in New York City and the author of The Pro-Aging Playbook. But continuous eye rubbing can create an issue by increasing inflammation in the area, according to Mount Sinai. “Constantly rubbing your eyes can affect the lines around your eyes,” says Tanya Nino, MD, a board-certified dermatologist and the melanoma program director at Providence St. Joseph in Orange County, California. She often sees this become a problem for patients with eczema, who may excessively rub their eyes because of itchiness and irritation. Dr. Nino says there’s even a name for these bags and wrinkles: Dennie-Morgan lines, which can look almost like a black eye, according to Rady Children’s Hospital in San Diego. That’s not all. “Pulling, tugging, and rubbing on delicate skin around the eyes can cause darkness,” says Jeanine B. Downie, MD, a board-certified dermatologist, a coauthor of Beautiful Skin of Color, and the director of Image Dermatology in Montclair, New Jersey. Skin solutions Figure out why you’re rubbing your eyes. According to the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center in Columbus, the most common cause of eye itching (and excessive eye rubbing) is allergies, so visit an allergist to diagnose and treat symptoms. Nino advises that if it is in fact eczema that’s causing discomfort, a dermatologist can tell you about your treatment options. RELATED: How to Get Rid of Dark Circles and Puffiness Under Your Eyes
2. Not Getting Enough Sleep Disrupts Skin Renewal Sleep is essential for energy, concentration — and complexion. “At night, skin goes into a renewal state,” says Jeannette Graf, MD, an assistant clinical professor of dermatology at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City. Skimping on sleep can show on your face over time. A study published in January 2015 in Clinical and Experimental Dermatology involving 60 women found that poor sleep (defined as five hours or less) was linked to increased signs of aging, poorer skin barrier function, and lower satisfaction with appearance. Skin solutions To get enough sleep, follow these four tips from the National Sleep Foundation:
Go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day so your body gets on a schedule.
Make your bedroom dark, cool, and quiet.
Finish eating two to three hours before bed.
Limit the amount of caffeine you consume in the afternoon.
3. Sipping Out of a Straw Can Cause Fine Lines Do you drink dark sodas, tea, and coffee through a straw? It may help prevent staining your pearly whites, but it can cause fine lines around your mouth, which is a sign of skin aging. Nino points out that when you’re sipping out of a straw, you’re activating the muscles around the lips: “The more we activate those muscles, the more likely we are to get that crease in the skin.” It’s the same reason that smokers also develop wrinkles around the mouth, she explains. According to the Mayo Clinic, those lines can be traced to repetitive lip pursing. Skin solution You don’t necessarily have to avoid straws like the plague, but whenever you can get away without one, skip it, Nino says. RELATED: 6 Ways to Eat and Drink Your Way to Healthier Skin 4. Stress Releases Cortisol, Causing Collagen Breakdown “Every part of our body is affected by our stress,” Dr. Frank says. That includes your skin. If you’re chronically worried (or losing sleep over stress), your body is pumping out stress hormones nonstop, which can cause premature aging. “Cortisol, the major stress hormone, breaks down collagen, which leads to sagging skin and wrinkles and causes inflammation,” says Amy Wechsler, MD, a New York City–based board-certified dermatologist and psychiatrist. And chronic stress can speed up the aging process because of that increased inflammation, research has shown. Skin solutions “Stress can be reduced mostly through lifestyle changes, including good food, good sleep, and meditation, which all have an enormous effect on the biological and cosmetic aging process,” Frank says. Figure out what really helps you relax and do it regularly. 5. Relying on Makeup for Sunscreen Leaves Skin Unprotected To protect the skin from premature aging, SPF is king. One past study found that ultraviolet (UV) light exposure was responsible for 80 percent of visible facial aging signs, including wrinkles and pigmentation changes.
But if you’re relying on makeup containing SPF to block harmful UV rays, you may not be sufficiently protecting your skin. “Most makeup protects against UVB rays but doesn’t block UVA rays, which cause fine lines, brown spots, enlarged pores, and crepey-ness,” says Dee Anna Glaser, MD, a board-certified dermatologist, a professor, and the interim chair of the dermatology department at St. Louis University School of Medicine in Missouri. Plus, you’d need to slather on a lot of cosmetics to get the sunscreen benefit. “Makeup will give added protection along with SPF, but alone it is probably not enough,” Frank says. Skin solution Apply a sunscreen or moisturizer with broad-spectrum SPF before putting on your makeup. Broad-spectrum means the product will protect your skin against UVA rays, which contribute to skin aging, and UVB rays, which can cause sunburn, per the Skin Cancer Foundation. “People need SPF as a separate application from their makeup,” Frank says. “SPF 30 is usually the acceptable number for protection.” Studies suggest that when we apply sunscreen, we skip spots, Dr. Glaser says. A research published in April 2019 in PLoS One found that 20 percent of the 84 study participants missed the area around the eyelids when they applied moisturizer with SPF, and 14 percent of people who applied sunscreen rather than moisturizer missed the eye area as well. “So if you put on lotion and then makeup, you’re more likely to cover those missed areas,” Glaser says. RELATED: Sun-Care Products That Dermatologists Use 6. Ignoring Your Neck and Hands Can Cause UV Damage “Ultraviolet light is the single most preventable risk factor for aging,” Nino says. But even the most diligent SPF users may neglect their neck and hands, which may be why they’re one of the first areas to give away your age. Indeed, previous research found that women whose hands had visible veins and wrinkles were perceived to be older than peers with plumper hands. “As we age, we lose some elasticity,” Nino says. Moreover, the hands lose volume and fat, which is how you end up with translucent skin with wrinkles and age spots, according to the Cleveland Clinic. “Your skin gets thinner, basically, so then your hands don't look as full,” Nino says. “You start to see the tendons a little more, you start to see the vessels, and they look more wrinkly.” Nino says the neck can become discolored and older-looking as well, usually as a result of long-term sun exposure. Skin solution Again, avoiding harmful UV rays can help — and if you do go outside, “the easiest thing to do is to seek shade and wear a hat with a brim, sunscreen, and sun protective clothing,” Nino says. She adds that some of her patients wear gloves with UV protection to shield their hands from the sun while driving. 7. Forgetting Sunglasses Can Damage the Eyes and Surrounding Skin According to Piedmont Healthcare, sunglasses protect the eyes from UV rays, which can harm the eyelid, cornea, lens, and retina (and, as previously noted, UV rays can damage the delicate skin around the eyes, too). “Repetitive movements like squinting, laughing, and frowning etch lines and wrinkles into your face over the long term,” Dr. Downie says, while Nino explains that the more you activate your muscles in a facial expression, the more you’ll start to see creases when your face is at rest. Skin solution Even in winter, slip on sunglasses — the more coverage, the better, Nino says. Search for a pair that says “100 percent protection against both UVA and UVB” or “100 percent protection against UV 400” on the label, according to the University of Utah. RELATED: Do You Need to Wear Sunscreen Indoors? 8. Using Drying Soap Can Accentuate Wrinkles Your grandparents may swear by the simple cleanser, but bars of soap often contain harsh detergents that strip skin of natural oils. “Though dry skin doesn’t directly cause wrinkles, it makes them more noticeable,” Glaser says. “And dry skin [can’t] protect itself from allergens and irritants like bacteria and viruses.” Nino notes that’s because your skin barrier isn’t as strong when skin is dehydrated. Your choice of soap is especially important if your skin is on the sensitive side. “If you're a person with sensitive skin or have eczema or rosacea, then yes, the soap you use is going to have an effect,” Nino says. Skin solution Use a hydrating cleanser. The American Academy of Dermatology says to look for the words “gentle” and “moisturizing” on the label. Be sure to also avoid using deodorant soap or products that contain potentially skin-dehydrating ingredients such as alcohol, fragrance, retinoids, or alpha hydroxy acid, advises the Mayo Clinic. Follow up your face washing with a moisturizer that contains antioxidants, such as vitamin C,
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